On Tuesdays I stretch my vocabulary skills by introducing you to five new words. Here are this week’s words to know:


  1. (noun) a bully.
  2. (verb) to treat with insolence; bully; torment.
  3. (verb) to act in a blustering, domineering way; be a bully.

Word origin: late 14 century, “a valiant warrior,” 1650s as slang for “a blustering, turbulent, pervicacious, noisy fellow” [Johnson], both in allusion to the provocative character of Hektor, Trojan hero, oldest son of Priam and Hecuba, in the “Iliad.”

Found in NY Times: But she also alienated audiences, showing up late or not at all, hectoring them from the stage.

Use it in the sentence: Canadian moguls skier Dale Begg-Smith was so hectored by his coaches and the Canadian media about his internet advertising company that he decided to compete for Australia instead.

inchoate (adjective):

  1. not yet completed or fully developed; rudimentary.
  2. just begun; incipient.
  3. not organized; lacking order.

Word origin: from Latin inchoātus, past participle of inchoāre, to begin, alteration of incohāre : in-, in; see  in- + cohum, strap from yoke to harness.

Found in NY Times: That Simone was absurdly talented was already clear. But her new friends helped crystallize her inchoate political thinking.

Use it in a sentence: Though 16-year-old Ashley Caldwell surprisingly made the finals in freestyle aerials, her inchoate talent and inconsistent jumps make her a more likely contender for the Sochi games in 2014.

nugatory (adjective):

  1. of no real value; trifling; worthless.
  2. of no force or effect; ineffective; futile; vain.
  3. not valid.

Word origin: from Latin nūgātōrius, from nūgātor, trifler, from nūgārī, to trifle, from nūgae, jokes

Found in: My doorman, Eddie’s, weekly rant about my neighbor’s poor vocabulary!

Use it in a sentence: In the Super Combined, crashing in the slalom made Lindsey Vonn’s first place downhill run a nugatory victory.

orant (noun, fine arts): a representation of a female figure, with outstretched arms and palms up in a gesture of prayer, in ancient and early Christian art.

Word origin: from Latin, ōrāre, to plead. In Christian art, a figure in a posture of prayer, usually standing upright with raised arms. The motif of the orant, which seems to reflect the standard attitude of prayer adopted by the first Christians, is particularly important in Early Christian art (c. 2nd-6th century) and especially in the frescoes and graffiti that decorated Roman catacombs from the 2nd century on. Here many of the characters in Old Testament scenes of divine salvation of the faithful, the most commonly represented narrative subjects of the catacombs, are shown in the orant position. The most frequent use of the orant in the catacombs, however, was as an abstract representation of the soul of the deceased. In certain contexts, when it is identified with no particular individual, the orant has been interpreted as a symbol of faith or of the church itself.

Found in: My doorman, Eddie’s, weekly rant about why Catholic school is better than public school!

Use it in a sentence: Many Olympic athletes mimic orants at the end of their events, raising their arms in gratitude or hope for the elusive gold medal.

turgid (adjective):

  1. swollen; distended; tumid.
  2. inflated, overblown, or pompous; bombastic.
  3. excessively ornate or complex in style or language; grandiloquent.

Word origin: Latin turgidus, from turgēre, to be swollen.

Found in NY Times: Its recording is a moment that Nadine Cohodas’s fascinating if turgid new biography of Simone, “Princess Noire,” builds toward and then falls away from.

Use it in a sentence: Bodie Miller’s turgid confidence—and embarrassing performance—in the Torino games was forgotten as he became the most decorated alpine skier in American history.